I am not a wrestling fan, anymore but about 10 years ago, I was completely hooked on the sport. The larger-than-life characters sucked me in. I tuned in to Raw and Smackdown every week for my dose of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s anti-authoritarianism, Mankind’s wacky insanity, the Rock’s smooth charisma. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who really liked those characters, because that’s the very era of wrestling that the newest edition of the WWE video game franchise focuses on.
This is where I went when I got my hands on the game, and the first match in Attitude Era is a bout between Shawn Michaels and Mankind. The match ended up being a long slugfest, with neither character able to beat the other. I was losing the advantage, when Triple H ran into the ring and ended the match in my favor. I was shocked at this turn of events, but I was laughing as I finally got the pin on Mankind.
There are also several new match types in single player and multiplayer modes. The highlight of these new matches was the “I Quit” match, in which the only condition for victory is forcing a submission from your opponent. To avoid submission the opponent must complete a short minigame. It’s a neat match type, and leads to some brutally long fights. The other new match types are your classic 3v3 or 1v1v1 Triple Threat matches which are interesting additions, but nothing special.
Multiplayer gameplay has gotten a few tweaks for this year’s edition. The developers assure us that the server problems that plagued WWE 12 are gone. One thing I’m grateful for is the new “Fair Fight” mode, which restricts all players to the stock characters and move sets. The result is the exclusion of custom characters equipped the best stats and moves, which is a nice touch, considering how gamers love to optimize their builds.
As I’ve already said, I am not a big wrestling fan anymore, and I haven’t played a wrestling game since Wrestlemania 2000 on the N64. You’d think I’d be pretty lost once the game started, but I was shocked to find that I could manage the controls pretty well. It seemed like a lot of the basics I remember from a 12 year old game held true. Then again, the controls were deliberately kept simple for new users, according the game’s creative director Corey Ledesma, “The controls of the game aren’t overly complex…We want you to be able to pick up the game press the A button—the first button you end up using—and pull off moves.” They certainly achieved that, as even a complete noob like me was able to pull of suplexes, DDTs and flying leg drops like the best of them. The matches felt properly brutal, yet never lost that sense of showmanship that pervades professional wrestling.